How to grow & care for Christmas Bush
Christmas Bush (Ceratopetlum gummiferum) or New South Wales Christmas Bush as it’s sometimes called is an Australian native plant that puts on a red/green colour display around Christmas time.
The green foliage is present year round, however come mid to late December tiny white flowers will emerge that are followed by a mass of bright red bracts - these look like petals, but technically aren’t.
Christmas Bush prefers a full sun to part shade position in a free draining or sandy soil. They can be grown in large pots with plenty of drainage holes if your soil is heavy clay or easily waterlogged.
Mature Christmas Bushes can grow up to 3-6 metres tall by 1.8-3.0 metres wide - depending on the variety. Choose one to suit your garden and space.
Top 5 steps to growing Christmas Bush
- Christmas Bush is an Australian native plant that prefers a free draining or sandy soil.
- If your soil is a heavy clay or easily waterlogged grow it in a large pot with plenty of drainage holes - use a native suitable potting mix like Scotts Osmocote Native Potting Mix
- Christmas Bush should only be fed with a fertiliser that’s suitable for natives such as Scotts Osmocote Plus Organics All Purpose (including Natives) Plant Food & Soil Improver or Scotts Osmocote Controlled Release Fertiliser: Native
- Christmas Bush will benefit from a light prune all over in January or February once its colourful red display has faded.
- Cut off pieces of Christmas Bush when it’s in full red/green colour to decorate your Christmas table or entertaining space.
- A Christmas Bush plant, choose a variety to suit your garden space and size.
- Scotts Osmocote Compost Premium Soil Improver
- Scotts Osmocote Plus Organics All Purpose (including Natives) Plant Food & Soil Improver
- Garden Shovelgx
- If growing in pots, you’ll need Scotts Osmocote Native Potting Mix and Scotts Osmocote Controlled Release Fertiliser: Native plus a suitable pot or container
Late summer or autumn is the ideal time to plant Christmas Bush. Choose a full sun to partly shaded spot with a free draining soil. Prefer the soil for planting by
If you have a heavy clay soil or a site with poor drainage consider growing a Christmas Bush in a pot instead of your garden soil.
Planting in the garden
Plant your Christmas Bush into prepared soil - dig the hole twice as wide as the original pot and the same depth. Gently remove the Christmas Bush from the nursery pot, tease roots if they are compact and plant into the hole. Backfill around the plant and water in well.
Mulch around the base of your Christmas Bush to retain moisture and suppress weeds, but keep the mulch away from the main stem.
Planting in pots
Christmas Bushes can be grown in large pots or planters with good drainage - choose a pot that’s at least 50-60cm wide by the same depth. To improve the drainage, if needed, drill more holes in the base of your pot or raise it off the ground with small pot feet.
Fill your pot or planter with Scotts Osmocote Native Potting Mix. Gently remove the Christmas Bush from the nursery pot, tease the roots if they are compact and plant into the potting mix at the same height it was in the original pot. Backfill around the plant with more potting mix and water in well.
Mulch over the surface of the potting mix to help retain moisture, but keep the mulch back from the plants main stems.
Fertilising & Care
An annual feed in late summer with Scotts Osmocote Plus Organics All Purpose (including Natives) Plant Food & Soil Improver is all most Christmas Bush will need. Unless you have a very sandy soil, which might require a second annual fertiliser application.
After its colourful display has finished in late summer give your Christmas Bush an overall light prune to remove spent flowers and keep it to a tidy shape and size.
Fertilise potted Christmas Bush with Scotts Osmocote Native Potting Mix and Scotts Osmocote Controlled Release Fertiliser: Native and top up the potting mix yearly if needed.
Pests & Diseases
Christmas Bush plants are relatively pest free but scale can sometimes be a problem - spray any infestations with Defender Pyrethrum Insect Spray as needed.
Root rot can easily occur if Christmas Bush sits in a waterlogged soil or potting mix. Ensure good drainage to prevent this from happening.